I’ve had confirmation this week that Friday the 13th October 2017 is the date for the Bartin & Greaves Planning Applications to go before the Peak Park Planning Committee in Bakewell. Also received a request from the peak park planners to use some of my photographs in their presentation to the committee which illustrate the unspoilt isolation of Bartin & Greave.
As mentioned previously if you have commented on the applications you can speak at the meeting. Details of what to do here
On another planning issue the application mentioned here to replace a set of illegal gates on a Huddersfield path with some big shiny new illegal gates has been withdrawn. A step in the right direction.
On the issue of gates on public footpaths the law is very clear. Any gate can only be authorised under Section 147 of the Highways Act 1980 for agricultural purposes or some other identified statute. Mr Justice Cranston further clarified the law in this judgement Yet from my discussions with Kirklees this week it seems this isn’t clear enough.
Eleven weeks after I first brought the blatant obstruction of Holmfirth Footpath 188 to the attention of Yorkshire Water and subsequently Kirklees Council the issue has been resolved!
As suggested in my original post all that was needed was some new hinges and a sneck to get the old gate working again. Incredible that someone would go to the lengths they did to block the path with boulders and drag their feet when politely asked to put it right. Several Yorkshire Water staff were involved in requesting the removal of the obstruction on a number of occasions and I understand two members of staff attended a site visit with the tenant. I know at least one visit was made to the site by a member of staff from Kirklees Council. In addition time has been spent liaising with Yorkshire Water and directly with the tenant responsible for the illegal obstruction.
It’s worth pondering –
Obstructing a public footpath is illegal
Yorkshire Water’s costs are paid for from everyone’s water rates
Kirklees Council is in dire financial straights
The taxpayer funds Kirklees Councils costs on this matter
The tenant is subsidised via cap payments by the taxpayer
The public are paying for everything here but have been denied access along the public path.
My initial reports to Kirklees Council were ignored so on 28th August 2017 I served a Section 130a notice and it was only after this that my reports were taken seriously and acted upon. From experience I find that if an obstruction makes it to 6 months it becomes part of the status quo and council managers will try to explain it away and justify it’s presence rather than get on and shift it. So maybe after receiving a few “unique” reference numbers but no action Section 130a is the answer?
The issue has also been passed onto the Rural Payments Agency and I’ve had a very encouraging response from their office.
It is Kirklees Council’s policy to refer incidents such as this to the RPA and it would be a powerful deterrent to landowners obstructing public rights of way if it was used. I don’t believe it ever has been in Kirklees despite many opportunities. The Council could save a lot of money if it took this option on reported obstructions. I’d suggest that noone in receipt of CAP payments would block a public right of way if they seriously thought Kirklees would inform the RPA and a full land inspection was on the cards.
These applications are not now to be considered by the Peak planning committee on 8th September.
There seems to be much going on behind the scenes. Keyland Developments Ltd (Yorkshire Water) have commissioned consultants to produce various reports on the structural,highway,archeological,heritage,birds and landscape effects of the proposals.
Credit to the Peak Park archeology, heritage and landscape sections who argue against the proposals as they are going ahead. Kirklees Rights of Way Unit stand up for the bridleway very well making some good points and an objection. The reports from Keyland Developments and counterpoints from the peak park are worth a read (honestly). Find them here
The bird survey is fascinating and confirms what a rich environment this area is for the likes of Curlews,Lapwings, Woodcock,Snipe etc. Both Bartin and Greave have Little Owls nesting in them but there’s no sighting of either Ring Ouzel or Sandpiper which I’ve observed here each summer. The bird surveyor believes there will be little disturbance from vehicles associated with the developments as access is so bad residents would wish to avoid driving along the bridleway as much as possible! Ironic as the application states that access is fit for purpose!
There’s nothing in these reports about how the public value,connect and enjoy the landscape as it is now. And that’s the big question isn’t it? Just what is that worth?Not just to us now but to those future generations who may never get to experience the solitude and sense of history a walk up this valley offers.
The NHS is creaking with diseases caused by affluence and inactivity. Rather than trashing our countryside and national parks we should be helping people make a connection with the outdoors that takes them beyond the fridge and diabetes clinics.
There’s a groundswell of support locally against the proposals with many people hitting the keyboard and sending in objections. Good to see the landscape and bridleway is valued by those who live here and enjoy it.
Clearly the corporate wolves are circling and what seemed to be a poorly prepared attack on this beautiful valley is now becoming more organised. Perhaps if they can’t make a kill first time by gaining planning permission they will try and finish things off on appeal?
Who’d have thought this would have run to 4 blog posts? I’m beginning to think this could go to a second series.
Yorkshire Water have previously confirmed that the land belongs to them and that as long ago as 4th July 2017 they asked their tenant to remove the boulders. That’s a full 8 weeks ago. I wonder why it is taking so long?
It’s interesting to compare this lack of activity on Yorkshire Water’s behalf with the situation at Bartin & Greaves Planning Applications which are a just a few hundred metres away . Having met a lot of well argued objections to these proposals Yorkshire Water (Keyland developments) have submitted some 6 reports/letters, compiled by consultants Wardell Armstrong to peak park planners in an attempt to justify the planning applications see here. One can only imagine the resources involved to produce these reports in such a small space of time. The planning consultations ended on 16th June and the reports arguing against the consultees are dated July. So it’s likely that a polite request to remove a simple obstruction from a public path on Yorkshire Water land has already taken up more time but produced no results. Why not put a kissing gate here ? Stock proof and pedestrian friendly. Kissing Gate Spec
Yorkshire Water has 2 tenants in this area and they are clearly capable people who run businesses and can meet deadlines. This is demonstrated by the fact that between them they claim over one hundred thousand pounds in public money via the CAP payments scheme. A condition of receiving such payments is that all rights of way on the land associated with the claim are open for public use. See here Cross Compliance
Following on from yesterday’s episode we contacted Yorkshire Water again to highlight the lack of progress.
I have walked this path again today and no attempt has been made to clear the boulders.
Could you please clarify if Yorkshire Water itself are responsible for the land and obstruction or whether it is entirely the Tennant’s responsibility?
I have also reported the issue to Kirklees Council but have heard nothing.
As such I believe I can myself serve a notice on the Council for removal of the obstructions and they are obliged to serve notice on the persons responsible hence my query above.
The issue would ultimately be resolved at Huddersfield Magistrate Court should the obstructions remain.
The following response was received this morning. As is the way with official bodies it doesn’t answer what was asked but seems slightly panicky and defensive.
Thank you for notifying this.
I have made numerous attempts to the tenant and still nothing has been done.
Myself and another colleague are looking into this. As we will need to take action on this matter.
So Yorkshire Water are “looking into this” and “will need to take action”. That’s a little disappointing considering the length of time this difficult obstruction has now been in place and the degree of inconvenience which is being caused to the public.
We contacted Yorkshire Water directly as the Highway Authority, Kirklees Council, seems to have disregarded its own legal obligations with regard to public rights of way and enforcement. The hope was that Yorkshire Water would be able to sort out this relatively straightforward issue in a timely manner by speaking directly to its Tenant.
However Kirklees Council, who are responsible for the footpath and for keeping it open and available for public use were informed on 17th July 2017 of the obstruction. They very helpfully and gave us our own unique reference number.
Your unique reference number is: 3578243 Your request will be dealt with as soon as possible. Kind regards, Kirklees Council
Since we’ve heard nothing further we contacted Kirklees Council again today and they very helpfully gave us another unique reference number!
Your unique reference number is: 3590269 Your request will be dealt with as soon as possible. Kind regards, Kirklees Council
The point of all this is to demonstrate how under valued and increasingly forgotten our public rights of way network is becoming. No one wants to know. There is no self remedy here. The boulders need a machine to move them and most walkers don’t carry that kind of kit!
Kirklees Council is super keen at the moment on people volunteering in its parks,open spaces and public rights of way Natural Kirklees. It seems to be a one way street with the council happily taking free labour and publicity but refusing to carry out the work which volunteers cannot do such as removal of illegal obstructions. You can of course have as many unique reference numbers as you wish!
This original approach to obstructing a public footpath,Holmfirth Footpath 188 on the Kirklees Way and in the Peak District National Park,was discovered and reported to the landowner Yorkshire Water on 4 July 2017. Yorkshire Water got back to us the same day with a straightforward and positive response.
“This is YWS land and I have emailed the Tenant asking him to remove the obstruction.”
Job sorted then? You’d have thought it would only take a matter of minutes to drive down with the machine that placed the stones there and remove them?
Unfortunately not. It seems it is a relatively easy task to source large boulders from the old quarry nearby, to move them one by one down a rough track and place them neatly in order to completely block a public footpath. But not so easy to shove them aside.
As the path was still obstructed on 12th July despite Yorkshire Water’s positive response we contacted them again to be told.
“I have contacted the landowner today to ask him to remove the obstruction. However this may take a few weeks.”
We walked the path again this afternoon (quite a few weeks later) to find the boulders still in place.
It does make Yorkshire Water’s invitation on their website to “come and explore” ring a little hollow.
As one of Yorkshire’s biggest landowners, Yorkshire Water take care of 72,000 acres of stunning countryside and invite you to come and explore it.
Whether you fancy a gentle stroll around a reservoir, a bike ride with the family, a bit of pony trekking or an afternoon’s fishing or sailing, there’s plenty to choose from.
Opening up our land for you is part of our Blueprint for Yorkshire, our plan to take even better care of our little part of the world.
The heather’s in bloom on Goodbent Moor and the old farmstead of Bartin is part of this beautiful landscape.
We’re told by the Peak Park planners that the applications (Bartin & Greaves Planning Applications) to “develop” the sites at Bartin and Greave Farms will now be decided at the Planning Committee in Bakewell on 8th September 2017.
Useful information should you wish to attend.
“If a planning application is going to be considered by our planning committee, the authority’s public participation scheme allows anyone who requests to speak at the meeting to make their points directly to the people who make the decision (called the members).
You can ask a question, make a statement or hand in a petition on any item on the committee agenda. You will be allocated a time slot of three minutes and you may be asked questions about what you say.
You need to make a request by 12 noon two working days before the meeting by contacting Democratic Services by telephone on 01629 816 362 or 01629 816 382 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The old iron gate on Holmfirth 188 has long had a rather rustic arrangement for walkers to get through. For as long as I can remember the gate has been pegged ajar with a metal stake just wide enough for a walker to squeeze through but too narrow for a sheep or cattle. It seems to have worked pretty well for the past 30 years both for the farmer and walkers heading along this lovely part of the Kirklees Way.
Nothing lasts forever and we now have a very new gritstone obstacle course consisting of three hefty boulders placed in such a manner around the gate that it is actually impossible to squeeze through what was always a tight gap.
Now I’m not a huge advocate of british standard specifications for stiles and gates in locations such as this and enjoy the wide range of solutions farmers come up with to keep land stock proof whilst allowing walkers to pass. The new arrangement here fails that most basic standard of allowing free passage and amounts to an obstruction of the public footpath.It needs changing as soon as possible.
The most striking aspect of the work carried out here is the time and trouble gone to in sourcing the stones, getting them into this location and arranging them in such a way. It must of taken hours to do! I rather think it would have been more cost effective for the landowner to nip along to the gate with a drill, couple of new hinges and a latch to properly rehang the gate.
It’s worth pondering how anyone could have such disregard for public access along a public footpath in the Peak District National Park. The path is on the popular Kirklees Way and links the Holme Valley with the Pennine Way. I’m sure if whoever has built this obstruction had approached the Peak Park or the landowner,Yorkshire Water assistance or advice would have been given on the best course of action to maintain public access and keep the land stock proof. A kissing gate for instance?